Monday, May 27, 2013

A summary of Events that have occurred over the last few Months in England

Below is an update on the history of events in England right up to the recent battle in Gloucestershire, I have taken this opportunity to make a few subtle changes from the beginning  of my story simply to fit the flow of the story as events have changed slightly in some areas.

England was very much a different country following King James assuming the throne, it was only three and half months ago but in that time the country had changed considerably.
It seemed that when the High Council ran the country almost everyone that was not a noble was in opposition to it, mostly it was a passive opposition but it was there none the less. The membership of the High council consisted of the upper nobility of England, and they ruled the nation in the absence of any alternative, such as a king, they ruled it harshly, corruptly and inefficiently. When small revolts occurred as they did every few years the High Council squashed all opposition ruthlessly.

The manner in which they directed the country meant internationally England became a second rate power. French gold very much directed the High Councils view of diplomacy, and that gold rarely made its way into the treasury, rather it was used to benefit the members of the High Council and even then mainly only the great lords themselves. But it was not purely just French Gold that the Lords lusted for, it was any gold and they were quite susceptible to Papal Gold as well.
The hoarded treasure went into their grand houses and palaces, buying out merchant businesses that had been squeezed out of existence either by Government inefficiencies or deliberately by a lord that wanted the business for his own portfolio.
Money for the essentials of running a country were for ever in the deficit for example the wages of the navy largely went unpaid as had the maintenance of the ships, it seemed every year more and more ships were laid up and aboard the few that were not laid up the crews were virtually mutinous and often refused to sail.

Only the army was paid regularly, and that was because the High Council needed the army to maintain their iron grip on the country.

Austria who once used to rely heavily on English gold now found its ability to maintain a long war was seriously jeopardised, therefore France could out finance either Prussia or Austria and if they lost military advantages in the short term they gained them by extending the war and virtually bankrupting their opposition.

The wars between Prussia and Austria were made small affairs due to the lack finance for longer engagements and these skirmish wars were encouraged by France, often France would favour one side in one war and another in the next, there by maintaining its own dominance in Europe.
However over the last 5 years Frances own financial situation deteriorated as did the hunger for international manipulation, in the last war between Prussia and France, Prussia had fought the French to a standstill which eventually brought about the Treaty of Basel. The realisation that Prussia had not only fought and survived French aggression it was seen as being more than of a match in any battle with the French, thus the last war changed the entire diplomatic and military spectrum of Europe.
Out of necessity Austria and France allied following the treaty, Austria out of fear of further Prussian expansionism and for the French the realisation that they were not at the moment the sole dominant power on the continent began to realise that some diplomacy was required rather than threats. However the Governing influence in all France could do at the moment was finance, that if they were not more prudent then like England they may become a second rate power.
To improve their income the French looked to the colonies, not only their own but to colonies owned by others as well.

Prussia was quickly becoming the dominant power in Europe, its expansion coming from its growing economy, much of this was due to Prussian expansionism in its trade from North America, mostly at the expense of France but more recently even the English Colonies found it more profitable to trade with Prussia than their mother country.
Naturally the High Council was disturbed by this, but as Lord Ashley pointed out, there was no appetite
for foreign adventures in the High council, most people knew what he meant was that the Lords had robbed the treasury blind and there was no money to pay for additional troops. The High Council had always been reluctant to have strong forces in the colonies, simply because they were not under the direct influence of the council, and therefore in the long term may represent a threat to them or their interests.
So Prussia gained much of the English North American trade, purely because of neglect and short sightedness of the High Council. They did not need to conquer the colonies merely win the hearts and minds of the English merchants and political leaders. Already there was developing a belief in some of the colonial states that they would be better of Governing themselves, a belief currently being fostered by Prussian agents.
There were many in England that unless the Government showed some strong leadership there was every chance they would lose the colonies, at the very least it was clear that the next wars would most likely be fought in America rather than Europe.

England & the Growing opposition
It was in fact the drop in trade from North America that had sown the first seeds of opposition to the Council within Britain, it was lead by the leading Merchants who were losing their fortunes because of the Council Policy.

In the east the East India company was making great profits, they were protected by the High Lords many of whom were directors of the company.

The other reason opposition had started against the council was religion, the Catholic Church had made great progress in re-establishing itself within the counties of the stronger Lords, from these established bases the Catholic Church using money as their spiritual lever over the High lords began to pressure the lesser Lords, which in turn meant the protestants within their lands were starting to feel the wrath of a revengeful and resurging Catholic Church.
It was because of this that the Archbishop of Canterbury had started his own opposition to the High Council, it was a subtle opposition at first but was becoming effective.
The Archbishop had resorted to every trick he could manage to establish his own power base with which to try and preserve the Church of England, that even included establishing a clandestine group of men who were known as the brotherhood. They were it was said all Franciscan monks, but many of them were more well known as thieves, and adventures. With these men the Archbishop gathered every scrap of intelligence he could on the members of the High Council, some would call it blackmail, the Archbishop preferred the term leverage. He knew one day he would be forced to make a stand against the High Council, and the Archbishop knew all to well discreet information could wield far more power than a sword if applied in the right quarter.

The more obvious opposition to the High Council surfaced oddly enough in the small country of Lyndhurst, the County of Sir Edward Anders a lowly knight within the High Council. Sir Edward had always taken a liberal view in running his county, he prevented the excesses of greed that other Lords allowed and practised in their own lands and he had prevented the encroachment of the Catholic influences into his lands.
This had brought him into opposition with the High Lords and the catholic Church who demanded he allow the catholic Church to establish itself on his lands, this he was forced to reluctantly allow just so as to prevent violence or to give the High Lords reason to take his lands from him, which they were threatening to do. However the people of Lyndhurst county were staunch Protestants, they burnt the new catholic churches and chased the priests away, the High Council demanded that Sir Edward punish the ringleaders which he refused to do.
For a period of weeks there was a stand off, even to the point the High Council considered using the army and squashing the opposition in Lyndhurst, Sir Anders threatened to raise the Militia if they did, many of the merchants around England, in particular London rallied to Sir Anders cause offering what little money they had to raise an army, the realisation of the extent of the growing opposition to their rule gave the High Council reason to pause and reconsider. Lyndhurst was allowed to remain solely Protestant and was the only county in England to do so, but Sir Edward Anders had made many enemies on the High Council.

Royal Restoration
It was Lord Bedford who believed that Sir Edward Anders may be the very match that could light the fires of opposition to the rule of the council, in part he was correct; but the actual match that lit that particular fire was much closer to him than he realised; it came from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Archbishop was naturally enough against a Catholic restoration in England, that and the fact that where the Catholics had gained a significant presence they were taking a very harsh attitude to the protestants, not totally unlike what the protestants had done to the Catholics in Lyndhurst. It occurred to the Archbishop that for him to survive personally as well as trying to fight back was by information gathering.
Over the months he and his small clandestine group of men had been gathering information on the High Lords they had made some significant discoveries that would as the Archbishop was fond of saying “would give him so leverage”. However the most significant discovery occurred by accident, it occurred when the Archbishop renewed the search for a Royal bloodline. He prayed that somewhere there had to be a member of the Royal houses of England, if he could convince them to return to England and re-establish the throne, then England and the Church of England may very well be saved. However for a long time the search failed to achieve any success whatsoever.

It had been thought or assumed that all Royal bloods had been been murdered in the decades that became known as the “Years that God turned a Blind Eye”. Everyman woman and child throughout Europe that had royal blood that linked them to the English throne was hunted by murder squads. It was not only the Republicans as they became known who participated in this blood feud, Royal supporters hunted down any leaders, supporters and families of those that had links with the Cromwell dictatorship and what later became known as the Republic.
The nobles that survived the bloodbaths were generally the ones that participated in the killings, but they soon realised that if they continued to fight amongst each other, eventually they themselves as a class would cease to exist or at least become powerless. There began a period of unstable Governments as various system were tried, Parliaments and peoples councils all failed until the High Lords themselves established the High Council and from then on they ruled with iron fists, so although the people of England were denied political freedoms at least some sense of order began in England, naturally it came at a price.
Following the establishment of the High Council no one stood up to claim the throne and survived, a few tried, a few German Princes, some French and even Spanish, but none made it to the shores of England, that was because the High Lords Hackett, Bedford and Ashley had all and any claimants killed so they themselves could rule through the High council. Other countries protested when their own princes or nobles were murdered, but proving it was done at the behest of the English High Council was another matter entirely.
So the Lords of England having made their peace with each other and established a Government through the High Council, the Lords divided England into Counties and each Lord had a county of his own, to be his fief. Some Counties then had lesser knights that ruled small boroughs or even small counties, one such family of Knights had been the Anders.

The Archbishops search for a royal bloodline had been an side issue, it was not an avenue that he expected any results from, but one of his men brother Paul persisted and eventually found a lead. The lead was to take Brother Paul to Hesse in Europe and to a young man, a mere teenager whose natural mother was Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia sister to King Frederick of Prussia, the boys father was Prince Ferdinand of a lower German Royal house that had links to the English throne links that even he was unaware off.. The boys father it was discovered was the sole remaining member of a bloodline that lead back to Charles I who was the great grandfather to this boy. Sadly the father was killed in the wars against France not long after his son was born, leaving the boy who was to become known as James as the sole surviving member of royal blood from the English throne.
For various reason Princess Wilhelmina could not allow it or did not want it known that she had an affair and had given birth to the boy, it so happened that one of the Princesses ladies in waiting a young married woman called Sophia Schiller was also expecting a child, but she lost her husband in the same battle in which James father was killed, sadly Sophia miscarried her baby, some said it was through the grief of losing her husband. However it was an auspices moment for Princess Wilhelmina because she and Sophia agreed that Sophia would take James as her own baby. Thus Princess Wilhelmina's reputation remained intact, and the boy was safe from any machinations from European courts who may have taken advantage of him had it been known that James was King Fredericks nephew.
Sophia later meet an Englishman in Hesse, General Sir Leopold Anders, they became engaged and not long after they had a visit from a very unusual Monk called Brother Paul.
Paul was a direct man and he did not waste too much time with small polite discussions, thus he was almost immediately telling both Sir Leopold and Sophia what he had learned of James's history.

Paul delved into a pouch he was holding, drawing from it a letter, he handed to Sir Leopold.
“You will understand that this is a copy of the original, for obvious reasons I would not risk carrying original documents around.
You will note Sir Leopold that the letter is from Charles I, before he was King, in it he mentions the “delicate matter” of his mistress having just given birth to a son, a baby boy she called John. The letter is addressed to a certain Count Gauden who was living in the Palatinate. He asks that this Count Gauden arrange for the boy to be sent to an orphanage in Austria, what was to become of the mother is not mentioned.”

Leopold read the letter twice, then handed it back to Paul.
“I certainly would agree that this letter indicates some very interesting even dangerous details, but what has it to do with James”

Paul placed the letter back into the pouch,
“The baby boy called John never reached the orphanage in Austria, apparently this Count Gaudin who was extremely elderly died before he could arrange matters, John was sent to a church orphanage in the Palatinate. According to the Orphanage records they mention the date of the boy being admitted but they changed his name to Johannes”.
Again he delved into the pouch and after some shuffling of papers he handed Leopold another one.
“This is a copy of the orphanage entry, in which they record the admittance of a ward of the deceased Count Gaudin – a boy named Johannes.
Sir Leopold we know from other records that when he was seven years old Johannes ran away from the orphanage, but he was found near death frozen from the cold and near starvation by a elderly local couple. We have a copy of the letter from this couple to the orphanage requesting that Johannes be granted to them or be adopted by them. They must have had some influence because the adoption seems to have gone through extremely quickly.
They recorded the name of their adopted son as Johannes Holler, the only records we could find on the Hollers was a mention in one Church record where Count Erik Hollar was laid to rest beside his wife, the record noted he was survived by a son Johannes.
After a very exhaustive search, we finally found Johannes Hollar had joined the Austrian Army, his records there indicate he was from the Palatinate, he joined the army when he was 17 years old. It would appear he was signed up as a Ensign, he rose through the ranks to become a Colonel.
He married and had two children Henry and Analiese, Henry was born in 1649, so John was around 34 years old when his first child was born, Analiese died young, we believe around 5 years old.
Now it seems Colonel Johannes Hollar died in 1676, but in 1670 Henry was engaged to a Princess Konstanze in a small German principality called Granschaft Gimborn, they were married in 1675 and Henry was by then a Colonel himself.
They had one child, a boy they called Ferdinand born in 1683, the same Prince Ferdinand who was James natural birth father.” Paul turned to Sophia
“It appears that Ferdinand was killed in the same battle as your late husband my lady”
Sophia nodded her head seemingly stunned that this strange man purporting to be a monk knew so much about her and her son’s life, perhaps even more than even she knew.

On hearing about James ancestry which brother Paul explained in great detail including more relevant documents they decided it was now far to dangerous for them to remain in Germany, because if the High Council should learn of the boys existence he too would be murdered and distance was no difficulty to the murder squads of the Lords.
Sir Leopold came to the sudden realisation that the boy who was to be his adopted stepson would without a doubt become one of the most hunted people in Europe. European Governments would dearly love to lay their hands on King Fredericks nephew, and as for the High Council of England if they were to learn of the boys existence there was no doubt they would have him eliminated. James's future seemed very bleak indeed.

Sophia turned to Brother Paul and then to Leopold as she too had come to the same realisation,
“What are we to do, here we are powerless, we have no protector Leopold. I cannot go back to Princess Wilhelmina and tell her the danger she has placed her son in, how can we protect him. Yet we have nowhere to go, no one to turn too.”

For the first time in his life General Sir Leopold Anders did not have an answer, he simply looked into the weeping eyes of his fiancée and felt powerless.

It was brother Paul who spoke next,
“What I am about to suggest may seem ludicrous even madness, but believe me it is the only way you can protect James.”
Both Sophia and Leopold looked at Brother Paul, both eager to seek some salvation from what was becoming a disaster.
“You must all return to England with me, James must be announced as the sole heir to the English throne and he must fight not only to save his life, but his country. There is simply no alternative, here in Europe you will live in the certain knowledge that one day some one will come and take James from you, or worse kill him, in England he will have people around him to guide and protect him.”

Paul looked to Leopold.
“Sir Leopold your own brother SIR Edward is currently leading a small passive opposition to the High Council, he has considerable influence throughout England, go back to Lyndhurst with your family and start the restoration of the throne.”
Sophia looked at Brother Paul,
“Are you completely mad” she screamed.

But Sir Leopold quickly realised that Brother Paul was quite right,
“No Sophia, he isnt and he is quite right, here we cant protect our boy, at home with my brother, his sons and his friends we at least have a chanc. Sophia my love look at James life, it was as if God had placed him in our hands for this very purpose, it simply cannot all have been coincidences; there had to be a greater guiding hand here.”

Sophia looked at him in utter shock,
“But he is only a boy.”
Brother Paul said,
“No my lady he was born to be a King, and Sir Leopold is right, if you look at all the so called coincidences that have occurred not only in James life but those of his natural father as well, it all leads to this moment.”

It was from that moment that the restoration of the English throne began, whether it is to survive is for further, well only the future can tell.

Since returning to England just over 4 months ago, much changed in the ensuring struggles. The High Council simply imploded when Sir Edward announced the existence of a royal heir, the High Council, the Catholic Church; even the French and Prussian made much in decrying the claim.
Lord Bedford sent one of his lowly knights who commanded a large group of ex pirates to kidnap the boy, he failed in that but in the ensuring struggles to defend the young man they killed Sir Andrews youngest son and wounded Sir Leopold who lost an arm in the vattle around the Anders estate.
However throughout England the response was inexplicable, it seemed people didn’t care whether his claim was legitimate or not, King James became the rallying call to the opposition of the tyranny that had ruled England for so long.
There were those in the council who rallied their support to him for personal gain, men such as the all powerful Lord Hackett who allied with the Anders with the promise of a betrothal between his daughter and James, with this powerful supporter other lords followed. Other Lords seeing the writing on the wall and realising that their own system of High Council had failed supported the King in the hope of salvaging something of their ill gotten wealth and reputations.

Yet there were many who opposed King James these people were originally called parliamentarians as they defied James under the banner of the cause that won the last civil war. They knew no one would rally to defend the High Council, so they created another totally fictitious cause, a parliament. Many of these so called Parliamentarians were people who owed much to their overlords, many were Catholics who were prepared to defend their faith and later many that would come would be adventurers and mercenary forces from Europe.

However in the first three months of James's reign there had been three small battles, one battle fought on the borders of Lyndhurst County was considered a draw, the next was Sir Ashley's drive on London which was defeated in Royden and the third was an accidental but insignificant battle in Gloucestershire which the parliamentarians won.
The High Council murder squads had already tried to make an attempt on James's life with a bomb, but that had been foiled when the Kings cartographer decoded a secret message.

The first few months in opposing the King made the parliamentarians realise their first reactions had been knee jerk reactions to the situation. The desire to reach London had lead to ill considered battles that gained little, the attempt on the Kings life was for the moment futile.
France had offered help and sitting in Kent was a French Infantry Brigade, all it required was some reliable Parliamentarian troops to fight alongside them, but more importantly what was greatly required was a well considered strategic plan.

For the King, he was surrounded with familiar advisor’s, His uncle Sir Edward Anders was Prime Minister, His cousin James Anders commander of the Kings personal Guard, his step father one of the Generals in his army and finally Brother Paul ran his intelligence service.

James became King as a young nieve and scared teenager, in a matter of months he was quickly learning the art of Kingship, he was also gaining a lot of respect and support within London, which was after all his main power base.

The Future
Both the Royals and the Parliamentarians reacted very quickly at the outset of the war, the initial reactions of the Parliamentary leadership had been to quickly squash the young King before he gained a foothold. The High Lords and or their Generals merely cobbled what forces were immediately available and set them on the roads to London.
For the Royals they gathered what forces were immediately on hand to block them and generally the result has been a strategic stalemate. Just about all available units in England have been drawn into the fray (with the exception of northern border counties), the Parliamentarians have a considerable advantage in that the French have sent a infantry brigade into Kent, but the French commander is unwilling to move unless he is supported by English regular troops.

For now both sides are settling down to the realisation that they are now facing a long war, both sides are heavily involved in recruiting and training. The Royalists are having the greater success with local recruiting than the Parliamentarians but the Parliamentarians have the support of the French which will provide at least in the early stages better quality troops.

Further more the war becomes more complicated when we consider the North American Colonies, there it is a four way struggle for dominance. The French, Prussians and Spanish will be attempting to take Colonies off England as well as each other.
For England the North American Colonies will become pivotal in whether they can stay in the war for any period of time,

For now India is firmly established as being under English control, but the power influences between Royalist and Parliamentarian are beginning to surface there as well.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The conclusion to the Battle of Glendale

Battlefield at 1:30pm

The roadway that ran north from Glenorchy farm was as were most roads in this region lined with thick high hedges on both sides of the road, the Royalist battalion (23rd) commander Major Claude Baring decided that defending the second hedge line (The hedge line on the right side of the road) was preferable to standing on the road and defending the first hedge line. His reason being that by defending the second hedge line the first line would break the impetus of the Confederate charge, and from what he could observe the Confederates who originally faced him in two line formations were changing into two assault columns. He doubted his Militia Battalion would stop two regular battalions by fire alone and if it came to hand to hand fighting he wanted to give his inexperienced men every advantage he could. This decision was to have vital consequences to this flank.
Further back behind him was the 24th Battalion, he had arranged with Colonel George Redding the commander of the 24th that when he needed assistance he would send a rider, so he asked that the 24th be in position to help at a moments notice.

The 4th Confederation Brigade commander Major General Geoffrey Oman had originally thought to advance the fresh 17th battalion up to the hedge line near Glenorchy farm and enter into a firefight with the militia Battalions defending the hedges. He was confident that his regular units would out match the enemy militia in a prolonged firefight, he however later changed his mind or had it changed for him by Lord Warwick who wanted the Royalist left crushed, not merely pushed back to the next defence position. So the decision was made he would attack in two Battalion assault columns each one company wide. Events were later to prove that general Oman's concept was the more correct one to adopt.

The Second Battalion in the assault would be the 18th Battalion, a unit that had been weakened in the assault on Glendale farm not an hour earlier. Though the 18th was recovered in its morale it was to start this next assault with only 492 men out of the original 700 it started the battle with.

The Confederate 17th & 18th Battalions started their movement at 1:30pm, once they came to the first line of hedges the columns began to become disorganised as the leading companies were raked by musketry fire from the hedge line across the road from them even as they were busy hacking cutting their way through the first hedge line.. The Confederation battalions struggled through the first row of hedge and rushed then second hedge line across the road which was defended by the 22nd Royalist Battalion. Here the two confederation Battalions were under a greater disadvantage as they fought both the entanglements of a thick hedge and royalists troops on the other side of it in their struggle to breakthrough.

After 10 minutes of vicious fighting the Royalist Battalion commander was becoming extremely concerned, his Battalion was holding and remarkably its morale was holding quite well, but his battalion was suffering very heavy losses, a further 10 minutes of hand to hand fighting his Battalion had lost 312 men. He knew his men could not hope to hold much longer, it was he decided time to bring up the reinforcements and it can not be over stated that they arrived in the nick of time.
The 24th took up positions as some men of the 22nd started to trickle to the rear, the trickle started to become a rush as the 22nd Battalion literally turned and ran for the rear, not in a rout but definitely a disorganised mob, they halted 400 yards to the rear and stopped to reform, they were a mere 189 men strong.
However the intervention of fresh troops was timely as the fresh troops started inflicting severe losses on the tired Parliamentarian battalions as they struggled to gain a foothold over the hedges and by 3:30pm both Confederate Battalions had withdrawn to recover, they moved 600 yds back to the rear before they stopped to reform, the 17th Battalion had 491 men, the 18th Battalion 287 men, both units were severely shaken and wood require time to recover.
The 24th now however having repulsed the two Confederate Battalions at the same time found that its neighbouring Battalion on its right (the 23rd ) was also breaking and running to the rear, they went back 600 yds before stopping.
For now the struggle on the left was over as both sides licked their wounds.

To understand what had made the 22nd break and run we need to understand what happened to the battalion to its right, the 23rd. The section of line that ran from the 22nd swung back towards Thornycroft village, this segment of line was defended by the Royalist 23rd Battalion and facing them was the 96th Foote Battalion.
The 96th Battalion Commander Major Gerald Shaw decided he would approach the Royalists in line and despite the hedge lines he would engage them in a firefight, his intention was to use the 1st hedge line as cover just as the Royalist were using the 2nd line, it meant a firefight just a few yards from each other, but he was determined his battalion would break the Royalist scum.

The firefight was indeed severe and after 30 minutes the 23rd Royalist Militia battalion commander know his men would not hold, they were simply not firing as fast and as accurately their more experienced enemy regulars, by 2:45pm the men started to move to the rear, a move that quickly became a complete break as they ran as a disorganised mob back 600 yds before stopping. So it was likely that this first break which likely encouraged the already suffering 23rd to also break and run.

The Royalist 24th Battalion Commander was now horrified to discover that not only had the battalion he had been supporting run away, the neighbouring battalion had also scarpered to the rear. Looking to the west he could see the two Parliamentary battalions that he had just fought were still continuing to running away to the west, he knew he was safe from them for the moment, so he ordered his battalion to swing to the right to face the new enemy, the Parliamentary 96th which was in the process of struggling through the hedge line. Their Battalion commander Major Shaw was somewhat surprised to see a Militia battalion to his front maneuver like a regular Battalion and in one movement swung round to face his own battalion.
Major Shaw knew his battalion needed to reorganise, but it was clear they were not going to get that time, and almost at the same time both Battalion commanders ordered the charge.

The melee was short possibly only 5-10 minutes but despite the Royalists inflicting heavier casualties their morale was already suffering from their early struggles they simply seemed to give up at the moment they were about to win, they too fled to the rear. The Royalist 24th now had 524 men remaining so once it had a chance to reform its commander was determined they would get back into the battle.
The sole winning Parliamentarian Battalion on the far left that was in any shape was the 96th Foote, but it had suffered horrendous losses (351 men missing) and was a hairs breath away from breaking itself, it would need time to recover.

The Parliamentary 121st battalion finally began its advance at 3:00pm. Advancing towards the open woods on the outskirts of Thornycroft village. It advanced in line formation after having watched the success of it northern neighbouring battalion. The 121st was opposed by the 25th Militia battalion which originally had 300 men in the open woods, however the battalion commander finally decided to bring those 300 men back into the line. A firefight began between the 121st and the 25th Militia, the fire from the 25th Militia was hugely devastating to the 121st which was surprising as the 25th was only Militia. The 121st battalion commander realised he was losing the firefight so ordered his men to charge. The battle between these two Battalions lasted from 3:30pm to approximately 4:30pm, both Battalions were exhausted by 4:30pm, the 121st pulled back after suffering very heavy losses, however both Battalions were equally close to breaking. The 121st only pulled out of musket range and began to reform, it only had 257 men left in its ranks, the 25th Militia feared better physically having 411 men in the ranks but was incapable of taking advantage of the situation, it was exhausted and almost broken.

The Royalist Commander of the 4th Militia brigade Maj Gen Blair Stevenson was worried about his left flank, it was clear to him that his left flank was now in tatters with Battalions either too broken to move or totally exhausted and therefore unable to respond to orders. The only compensation for the moment was that the Parliamentary forces on that flank were equally in disarray, it was clear the side that recovered first would be the side that won the day.
Meanwhile the enemy forces opposite the village of Thornycroft which consisted like his own units were all militia and it was becoming clear that the parliamentary commander whom prisoners had now revealed was Lord Warwick himself, was unwilling to test them in a fight for the town. At least he hoped that was the situation.
For General Stevenson and many of his men of the 4th Militia brigade Thornycroft and the towns and villages of the area were their homes. In fact Lord Burn's Manor just to the south of Thornycroft was the home of Maj Gen Stevenson's father in law Lord Cedric Burns. He knew many of his men wanted to defend the village and their homes to the last breath and he had tried to convince them that while Thornycroft was important to them; in the overall scheme of the war it was yet just another village that would be won or lost as the vagaries of war swung back and forth. It was not his intention to destroy his Brigade in Thornycroft it was more important to keep his Brigade intact, but he was worried that if or when he ordered a withdrawal would his men obey; there was no doubt some would stay to defend their homes to the death and if that occurred it would ultimately break the Brigade apart.

Now as he looked out from the village to the north he saw movement, raising his telescope he surveyed the horizon and indeed he saw the enemy units moving forward, It seemed that Lord Warwick had changed his mind. The struggle for the village it appeared was about to begin; quickly looking at his pocket watch general Stevenson noted it was 3:30pm.

It had not been part of the Parliamentary plan to use the 6th Militia brigade to assault the village of Thornycroft, the plan was that the regular 4th brigade would break the Royalist left and then sweep the remnants away as they isolated the town and the units defending it. However the 4th Brigade had indeed broken the Royalist left but had also itself been broken.
Lord Warwick was left with a decision, he could wait and allow his 4th Brigade to recover and then recommence the assault on the Royalist left or he could use the Militia to maintain pressure on the Royalists and hope the 4th Brigade recovered quickly enough to help finish the day.

If he waited he allowed the enemy units to regain their composure as well as his, if he attacked now he risked ending up with 2 shattered Brigades and losing the battle.
From Prisoners he learnt the enemy had 4 Militia battalions in this part of the Battle field, 1 in the village, 2 defending the exposed right and 1 in reserve near Burns wood.
His Lordship ultimately decided he had to maintain the pressure on the Royalists so for now he would start an attack on the village, if it appeared to go well he would press on, if there was a danger of losing he would pull back. He gave the order for the 21st Militia Jager battalion to move forward and cover the approach of the 9th and 10th Militia brigades, all through Battalions would centre their attack on the northern extremities of the village.

The 21st Jager advanced first, spread out in open order they engaged the Royalists in a firefight for some 10 minutes, then the 9th Battalion passed through the Jagers lines and charged the village.

The jagers withdrew and reformed while the 9th fought for a foothold in the village. The struggle between the parliamentary 9th Militia battalion and the Royalist 20th lasted an hour before the 9th withdrew, still in reasonable condition but quite disorganised. The Confederation Brigade commander decided he would bring the 10th up but needed the 9th out of the way.
The men of the Royalist battalion were encouraged by the way their General laid into the fight, he was seen hacking, swearing and cursing along with his men and there was little doubt that his example had made the difference between holding and being forced back.
Now the grimy, blood spattered general stood watching and waiting as one enemy battalion walked slowly back, he knew his men would be tested yet again; he also knew his men were weary, but they would fight despite that.

Lord Warwick was concerned the day was darkening, storm clouds had been gathering all day, fortunately so far the rain had held off, but it was clear that either a storm or the time of day was likely to decide this battle and whichever it was he wanted to be in that village, so as a last gamble he ordered in the 10th Militia Battalion.
The renewed struggle continued for another hour, the Royalist had miraculously held, but out of the 700 men in the battalion that started the day only 252 remained standing, waiting to fight yet again.
The 10th battalion did not suffer heavy losses, it was their morale that collapsed and Lord Warwick could see they were close to breaking so he ordered them back.

It was now 6:15pm, the rain clouds continued to hold off, though the day darkened. Warwick was becoming frustrated, all afternoon his army had battered themselves against the Royalists, they had done well, but they had not done enough to defeat the Royalists; yet.
His Lordship now received word that his units out to the left had recovered somewhat so were once more prepared to attack. It would be his last chance he decided because now the first spattering of rain was beginning to arrive.
At 6:45 the battle resumed once more.

Battlefield at 6:45pm

Lord Warwick realised time was against him, he had 2 hours of daylight left, and perhaps not even that if the threatening storm hit before dark, however the alternative was not an option because he expected the Royalists would have reinforcements arriving overnight and he had nothing coming to help him.

He decided therefore the attack would occur in two areas, Lord Burns manor-Burn's Timber mill would be the first and the second would be the village itself. He had reports that the Royalists had sent reinforcements into the village, but there was little he could do about that.

The Royalists had used the break in the fighting to replace the 20th Battalion which had defended the village so stoutly but was now too weak with the 27th Battalion which had been in position behind the village and was therefore untouched.
In the area of Lord Burns Manor the strongest surviving battalion the 24th (464) took up a position covering from the Manor north to Bligh River. Behind that battalion were several very weakened but recovered Battalions, the 20th (252) defended the strong walls of the Manor itself, and in reserve just south of Burns wood was the 23rd battalion (375).
The 22nd Battalion only 189 men remaining took up positions in the large Thornycroft Franciscan monastery, the Monks that lived there were already using the Monastery as a hospital so the scenes within those walls was quite chaotic.. The 25th Battalion (411) defended the area to the west of the Monastery. The other Battalions were at full strength.

The Confederate 17th (491) and 96th (351) lead the attack to the west, they advanced in line against the 24th (464).

The Confederate advanced into a withering fire from the Royalist 24th and a prolonged firefight ensured, by 7:15pm the 24th (224) was being pulled back into the timber mill itself. The 23rd (375) battalion which had been in reserve behind the manor took up a position behind and between Lord Burns Manor and the timber mill. The defenders of the Manor were greatly heartened to see the elderly Lord Cedric Burns standing on the upper floor windows of his great house with musket in hand yelling obscenities at the rebellious traitorous scum about to try and storm his home.
The Parliamentarian 121st (197) battalion was pulled back into reserve, it now being combat ineffective, the 18th Battalion (287) was not much better but at least its morale still held.
The attack now became a confused tangle the Confederate 18th battalion charged straight at the timber mill, it was later remarked that the Battalion commander had learnt nothing from the days fighting and even its own earlier experiences, charging in column against a defended position would be costly, and it was.
There was no fire from the 224 men of the Royalist 24th, there had not been time to organise the units for that, they had no sooner taken up positions in and around the large timber mill when the Parliamentary 18th battalion stormed in behind them, it was a fight with bayonet, musket and whatever one could lay their hands on.
After a 15 minute struggle the 18th (254) were successful in ejecting the defending 24th (155) out of the timber mill. The remnants of the 24th fled into the thick Burns wood and now were totally combat ineffective.

The Royalist 23rd (375) which was in position behind the timber mill now themselves charged into the timber mill, the Parliamentary 18th hardly having time to prepare a dense let aline fire at the approaching Battalion, defended themselves as best they remarkably the Confederate 18th battalion despite being numerically weaker were more determined to defend the hard gained timber mill and by 8:00pm that evening the 18th (101) had pushed back the 23rd. The fight had simply come down to the difference between the experience of regular troops against militia. The 23rd fled the timber mill and didnt stop running until they reach Scotts farm.
Thought the 18th held the Farm, with 101 men and being exhausted they were going no further in this battle.

As struggle for the timber mill was taking place another was being fought out around Burns Manor less than a mile to the south. The fight here was between the Parliamentarian 17th battalion (431) and the defending 20th battalion (252), however here the 17th were attacking a strong position, high stone walls and strong buildings and perhaps more telling was that the 17th were still tired from their struggle against the 24th just half an hour earlier.
However if the Parliament forces were to have a chance of victory, the Manor had to be taken.

The 17th advanced on the Manor in fine discipline, they moved through strong fire from the Royalists, the Battalion Commander deciding that to stop and return fire against men hidden by stone walls and buildings was a losing proposition he urged his men on.
The parliamentary Brigade commander even joined the charge against the manor, his men greatly improving their morale seeing their leader amongst them.

The fight for the walls only lasted 10 minutes but in that time the Royalists lost heavy in men, but the Parliamentary Battalion's morale plummeted as they were continuously pushed off the walls or back through the gates, eventually the 17th's (337) morale broke and they fled all the way back to Glenorchy farm.
The 20th only 150 men strong still held the manor and had maintained a remarkably high morale, his Lordship Cedric Burns was at the end of the battle still standing in the upper windows calling upon the fires of hell to burn the traitorous parliamentary scum. It was said in later times as people regale events of the battle that his lordships fiery example aided the men's morale, but most suspected it was the barrel of rum his lordship had dished out to the garrison just prior to the fight for his manor.

While the battle for the Timber mill and Manor were taking place, on the northern outskirts of Thornycroft Village another fight was also taking place.
Just like the Battalions further south the Parliamentary 21 Jager (599), 9th (510) & 10th (601)Militia battalions resumed their advance on the outskirts of the village at 6:45pm.

The attack began with the 21st Militia Jagers advancing in open order as they engaged the 27th (700) Royalist battalion which were in positions in and around the houses of Thornycroft.

The Jagers engaged in a unequal firefight for about 10 minutes and then as the 9th battalion moved through the jagers line the 21st jagers (497) withdrew in good order to reform. The 27th (648) royalist battalion, their morale still high waited for the next stage of the battle, it was not long in coming as soon as the 9th were clear of the 21st jagers they charged the Royalist positions.
The melee between the parliamentary 9th battalion and the 27th was a prolonged struggle that went on until 8:15, by now the only light left was from the fires of burning houses. At 8:15 the 9th Battalion broke and fled tot he rear the parliamentary 10th (601) Battalion advanced from the darkness into a village that was had become burning inferno. The 27th (459) seeing this new Battalion advancing on them could stand no more and they fled the village taking the 25th and 27th battalions with them.

The Battle of Thornycroft was over, it was a parliamentary victory but the losses will show it was a Pyrrhic victory, the Parliamentary Army was to exhausted and to weak to pursue into the night, the Royalists moved south on the road to London, but once they realised they were not being pursued they halted near the village of Camberwill. That evening one of the severest storms people could remember broke over Thornycroft, though the deluge was severe, it was in the eyes of many of god send as it help extinguish most of the fires in the town.

The Parliamentary (Confederation) force started the battle with 6300 men, they finished the day with  3659 men, allowing for wounded that return and men missing in 3 weeks time the army will be back to a full strength of 4502, thus leaving a battle loss of 1798 men.
The Royalist force started the battle with 5,600 men, they finished the day with 3046 men, allowing for the returns of wounded etc in 3 weeks time the Royalist army will be back to full strength of 3853 thus leaving a battle loss of 1747 men.

In strategic terms this battle was a non event, it was not meant to happen and as with so many battles  it occurred because a road junction offered security against flank attacks, and options for advances in future times for both armies.
In fighting this battle the difference in regular forces against Militia became apparent and I would say with some confidence that if the Parliamentary regular Brigade had been a militia one, they would have lost the battle.

Now eyes will turn to see who can take best advantage of recent events.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Skirmish at Glendale farm

This period covers the maneuvering of the units as they close on each other and the Skirmish at Glendale farm
(Note all directions are as you face the map, so left is the left side of the map etc)

Lord Warwick was most displeased to hear from his scouts that Thornycroft village was occupied by two Royalist Militia battalions. It occurred to him that the Royalists were intending to use the crossroads at Thornycroft as the concentration for their forces in Gloucester, just as he intended it for his.
He realised that where two Battalions were in place now, soon be it a matter of hours or days there would be others.
On reaching Ashley Lane Manor a mile so from the Village the Duke sat down with the 4th Brigade commander Maj General Lauriston and his Regimental and Battalion commanders.
The options discussed had been for a rapid march on Thornycroft village with the 4th Brigade to meet up with the Confederate 6th Militia Brigade and launch a concentrated attack on the village, however the down side of that option was as all commanders were only too aware how viciously the Royalists were defending their homes and the battle in Thornycroft village could seriously bog down and delay him while further Royalist forces gathered nearby or came to the support of the defenders.
It had therefore been decided that the 4th brigade would take the Glendale farm and then swing across behind Thornycroft village and then attack the village front and rear. It was far better to destroy the Royalists piecemeal rather than giving them the opportunity to concentrate.
The 6th Militia Brigade would initially only be required to screen the village until the 4th Brigade was in position behind it.

The advance on the left Flank

Colonel Borthwick commander of the 8th Confederation Regiment were to lead the assault in Glendale Farm, his two Battalions the 17th and 18th Foote battalions would be the first to engage.
The terrain made a rapid approach to the farm difficult as the road way they were marching on had very high and thick hedge lines either side, so march column made for the most rapid movement, however if he had kept all his units on the road they would have been strung out for miles, so once they had reach Ashley Lane Manor, he kept the 17th on the road and the 18th marched cross-country south from the manor.
His intention was to engage any forces in the area of Glendale farm frontally with the 17th, while the 18th moved around to the left of Glendale farm crossed the river with the intention of outflanking any enemy in the area of the farm. The other Regiment with the 91st and 121st Battalions would move in a south easterly direction across country with the intention of crossing the river to the the right of the open woods.
These two battalions were to prevent any reinforcements reaching Glendale from Thornycroft Village or indeed from the south (bottom of Map) and if not required to block enemy units one or both Battalions could assist with the attack on the farm.

Skirmish at Glendale Farm

12:15pm The Confederate 18th battalion (700) reaches Periwinkle farm and bridge, it begins changing from road column into line, a move that takes 5 minutes. It soon becomes obvious to the Battalion commander Major Evans that the area he has to form and attack across is quite restricted. First he has the river, then there is the open woods to the left of the farm and then the river itself bends around the farm, so there is no room for fancy maneuvers, he will form line, and move on the farm.
12:20pm The Battalion is line and he has received reports that the farm is occupied by one enemy Battalion of Militia.
The Battalion begins to advance through the river, it is not to deep but very swift and before long his line is quite disordered, on reaching the other side his battalion begins to reform, but as they do so they come under fire from the enemy Militia Battalion who have not restricted themselves to the farm, in fact they have lined the thick hedge line that runs alongside the road that passes through Glendale Farm.

12:25pm - The Royalist 22nd Militia battalion opens fire on the Confederate 18th Battalion inflicting 80 casualties, the 18th is shaken but completes forming line.

12:30pm - 18th battalion opens fire back on the 22nd Militia battalion causing 35 casualties, the 22nd replied causing 105 casualties on the 18th battalion, Major Evans is becoming concerned for his Battalions cohesion.

Major Evans receives 2 reports the first was from the 17th Battalion which is now in position to attack the Royalist battalion in the flank. He looks to his right and indeed can see the 17th forming line in a perfect position to outflank the enemy, but then the 2nd report arrives saying another Royalist battalion has been seen further south near Glenorchy farm.

12:35pm – The Commander of the Royalist 22nd Militia Battalion Major Claude Baring was becoming a worried man, he had managed to contain and seriously hurt the enemy battalion to his front, but now another was forming in line on his left flank and a few minutes earlier he had seen two enemy Battalions disappear behind the woods to his right, looking to his rear he could see his regiments sister Battalion the 23rd rushing to join him, but they were to few, too late and too far away to be of immediate assistance.
Major Baring realised he had to withdraw now while he could, the enemy to his front was shaken and would take time to form for an advance, the Battalion to his left would have to cross the river which means it would halt to reform; so now was the time to move. He sent dispatch riders to the commander of the 23rd to see if he could delay the enemy Battalions coming around the right of the woods, he also advised him and the Brigade Commander in Thornycroft that he would fall back to an area north of Glenorchy farm. He envisaged that inevitably he would be forced back to defend the area Lord Burns Manor north through Burns Timber-mill and rest the new flank on the river near Crecy church. He also asked for any available reinforcements as the area he would need to hold was far to big for a mere two Battalions to contain 4 battalions. Having made the decision to move he urged his Battalion to move back south to take up a position near Glenorchy farm.
The Battalion moved out in good formation, the Confederates realised too late that the Royalists were withdrawing and by the time they gained Glendale farm the Royalists were forming a new line behind the hedges on the main road just to the right of then Glenorchy farm.

Thus ended the skirmish at Glendale farm the Confederate 18th Battalion suffering 180 casualties the defending Royalist Battalion lost 61 men.

The situation entered a period of relative calm at this stage. The Royalist 18th battalion managed to withdraw back to near Glenorchy Farm and took up positions on the roadway, protected by the large thick hedge line. The 17th Battalion moved down to the bend of the road to face off the Confederate Battalions that had moved by hind the open woods.
The Confederate battalions drew up close to the Royalist lines and then a General calm spread over the battlefield, it was 1:30pm, the time that Lord Warwick had designated as the start of the next phase of the battle.

Events on the Right Flank
Mag Gen Blair Stevenson received the order that his6th Militia Brigade was to screen the village of Thornycroft from the north, he was not to attack the village until the 4th brigade was in position to the south of the village.
However as General Stevenson fumed, when his lead units had arrived at Stavely farm all he could see in Thornycroft village was 1 miserable Royalist militia battalion. He had 5 Battalions, he should have stormed the village there and then and that would have settled the issue with a lot less pain than they would suffer if ordered to attack later today.
Now as he looked the Royalists had at least 3-4 battalions in or near the village, which meant a long hard slog for his men.
The General however was no fool, he knew Lord Warwick all to well and he had his mind set on the fact that the regulars were going to have the glory this day, and as far as General Stevenson was concerned they should have the blood as well.

The 4th Militia Brigade was formed in an arc around the northern outskirts of the village, from that point all he could do now was wait. He heard the firing and realised the 4th Brigade was in a battle for Glendale farm, a little later he received a message declaring that the farm had been captured.
General Stevenson had sent several messages advising his Lordship that many enemy battalions had been seen marching quickly to the Thornycroft region, yet he still received no orders to attack.
He looked at his pocket watch and it was 1:30pm, and finally he could hear more firing, this time coming from the region of Glenorchy farm.

Next Post Covers the main Battle

Friday, May 17, 2013

The setting for the skirmish at Thornycroft Village

Battle for Thornycroft Village.

Parliamentary Forces:

4th Brigade
8th Foot Regiment = 17th Foot, 18th Foot,
9th Foot Regiment = 96th Foot, 121st Foot
6 th Militia Brigade –
4 Battalions of Militia
1 Battalion of Jager Militia

Royalist Army
4th Militia Brigade -
4 Battalions
5th Militia Brigade
4 Battalions

The Battle for Thornycroft Village was a totally unexpected affair, it was a most unlikely contest between what were two small flanking forces. The Royalist Duke of Gloucester had been ordered to gather his militia in the Bichester area so as to protect the left flank of the regular Royalist Army further to the east in Royston.
However on hearing that the Royalists had won a significant victory near Luton in Royston and in the expectation that the Royalists would advance into Northampton the Duke ordered his Militia to concentrate further north, if possible in the area of Banbury.
Meanwhile the Duke of Warwick with his original intention of advancing south parallel to the main Confederation Army asit  moved south from Northampton to Royston was aiming for Bichester. The Duke had already committed 1 of his Regular Infantry Brigades to the Royston Campaign which left him with barely sufficient forces for an offensive in Gloucester. However he had received intelligence from Confederation sympathisers that the Duke of Gloucester had sent all his regular units to General Roberts in Royston, thus Warwick correctly assumed all Gloucester would have would be Militia and they were spread out over the county garrisoning towns and villages against rebellion and possible Confederation raiders.
The situation changed a little for the Duke of Warwick when he learnt that Lord Ashley had been defeated in Royston and as a consequence had retreated back into Northampton. Along with that news came a request for further reinforcements, a request that infuriated Warwick beyond belief. Having already committed half his regular Army to Lord Ashley in Royston he was being asked to now commit more when he was on the eve of his own advance through Gloucester. Finally however he decided that Ashley had to be reinforced or his own forces would become isolated being too far forward, so he dispatched his sole Cavalry force, two regiments of Heavy cavalry to Lord Ashley. This left him with the 4th Regular Brigade and the 6th Militia Brigade, he now had no Cavalry and no artillery; not a very satisfactory situation. It was quite evident to Warwick that a advance on London through Gloucester was now out of the question, the best he could hope to do was find a suitable place to to hold and defend until the situation in Northampton rectified itself.
Looking at the map Warwick saw the village of Thornycroft was a vital road junction and with no possibility of any significant Royalist forces in the area he would settle there and await events.
Meanwhile the Duke of Gloucester had received news of Warwick's advance and realised he was far two spread out to oppose Warwick at the outset, thus he had to decide on a point to concentrate his militia, the point he focused on was Thornycroft village, not too far forward but vital to hold in case Duke Warwick intended to swing east and take General Grahams force in Royston in the flank or rear.
Gloucester had 2 Battalions of the 4th Militia Brigade garrisoning the village so all that was required was that the other 6 Militia battalions move on the village and await events. Of course things were be a little precarious because all his artillery and Cavalry had been sent to Royston, so his Militia army had no eyes for reconnaissance and no support in artillery.

Thus the scene for the Skirmish at Thornycroft was set.

The Battlefield at Thornycroft with DVs allocated.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Message

It had been a long day for the Kings cryptographer, nothing seemed to work in regard to breaking the Vigenere code, over the last few hours he had resorted to frustrating guessing in hoping to find the keyword, all to no avail. He tried peoples names, cities, countries, even birds and animals nothing fitted, nothing worked.
His new friend Brother Andrew called in at the office and soon saw the work and its frustrations were taking their toll on Sam.
It had taken some convincing but eventually Andrew managed to talk Sam into going outside for some air, of course there were the normal security procedures Sam undertook when he left the office now. Everyone left the room while Sam presumably hid the code, but once done and doors locked the pair left palace buildings for the gardens.

It was late afternoon, spring was setting into summer and it was an unusually warm summer. They walked the paths of the elaborate gardens in silence, Andrew not wanting to burden Sam with to much conversation, just hoping the break and fresh air will do much to refresh and help him.
There were a number of people strolling in the gardens, they had even seen Lady Margret in the distance with a group of “her ladies”.

Sam asked “When will the King marry?”
Andrew smiled, “That is a question I suspect that is asked every day, but provisionally it is set for about 6 weeks time. I have to say though neither the King nor Lady Margret seem to be overly excited about the prospect, or if they are they keep it to themselves.”

Sam saw a bench set not far away, there were a group of young men fencing in the nearby, Sam said
“Lets take a seat for a while.”

They sat there for a few minutes in total silence, watching the men challenging each other, Sam only recognised one of the men, young Rodney the prat who described himself as the Kings confidant and secretary.

“Andrew how on earth did Rodney become the Kings Secretary, I remember him as a student I taught back in Oxford and I certainly would not have regarded him in any way as being academic or bright enough to be a clerk, let alone a Kings Secretary.”

Andrew nodded slightly, “We are not sure what the King sees in our Rodney, Brother Paul has asked him several times and all the King says is he finds Rodney funny and that he distracts him from the dreariness of being King. I can tell you Sam in confidence, that Brother Paul is not happy about the relationship, mainly because we have found Rodney has some questionable friends in the city.
The other aspect is that Rodney is not the Kings secretary Master Cawthorne has that responsibility, I think the relationship Rodney has with his majesty is more in the mind of Rodney that reality. In fact since an incident several weeks ago where there was quite a clean out of undesirables claiming attachments to his majesty, Rodney's relationship has definitely been waning.”

The two watched as Rodney just finished off another opponent, he paused as he saw Sam sitting on the bench seat, taking a kerchief from his bags on the ground nearby, we wiped his sweating brow and wandered over. He placed the sword he had been using into a long case and took from the case another rapier type sword and slid it into the scabbard attached to his belt.
After making some adjustments to his belt Rodney wandered over the Sam and Andrew.

He bowed in a rather extravagant manner, “Good afternoon to you Master Ogilvy, brother Andrew. Splendid afternoon for some exercise don’t you think.?”

Sam nodded, “In deed it is, we were just admiring your skills, you have quite a remarkable gift with your abilities with a sword; very skilful indeed.”

Rodney turned and watched as some of the other fellows continued their swordplay,
“I was fortunate enough to spend some time in France after I left Oxford, and while their I had the opportunity to learn from one of the French masters.”

Brother Andrew said “Yes Sam, Rodney is quite an accomplished duelist, it is said he has had a number of victims to his credit.”

“Brother Andrew, you are most unkind, the men I fought were not victims, they were fair opponents and I have been fortunate enough to be skilful enough to beat them all”.

Sam had been looking at the rapier Rodney was holding,
“Might I have look at that exquisite weapon Rodney, it looks dare I say it, quite beautiful?”

Rodney handed the rapier over, with an obvious amount of pride in his lethal weapon. “Do handle it with care Master Ogilvy, this is not the same weapon I used in practice over there with my friends, this is my own weapon I use to protect myself and my honour”.

Sam gently held the sword, Andrew noticed that Sam was paying considerable attention to a motif on the pommel. It was a blue wavy line that ran across a circular white background which seemed to be white pearl.
“Tell me, what is this motif, what on earth does it signify”

Rodney took the weapon quickly back from Sam hands.
“The Motif is the motif of my dear friend and mentor who taught me the skills of the rapier , Comte
“Indeed, it is a fine weapon Rodney, a fine weapon, but that motif what is the the significance of the blue line?”
Rodney's brow deepened, “I am sure I do not know Master Ogilvy, I was not rude enough to ask when the Comte offered me this weapon as a gift.”

“Of course, and I am sorry to sound so inquisitive, it is a fine weapon and you have right to be proud of it young man, and I see you do it justice with your skill.”

Rodney now smiled, “Thank you master Olgivy, anytime you wish I would be pleased to show you some of the basic arts of fencing.”

Sam waved his arms in protest, “No thank you, weapons and I do not make good bedfellows, I am more a man of the quill than the sword I am afraid.”
Rodney looked to Andrew, “And you brother Andrew, are you a man of weapons or quill as well.”

Andrew looked up from beneath his hood, “A man of god has no need of weapons, nor I am afraid to say do use the quill all that well.”

Rodney stood momentarily looking at the two men, then said,
“Well Gentlemen I must return to my fellows,.” he bowed and quickly made his way back to the group of young men.

Andrew turned and looked at Sam,
“So Sam what what all the questions about the motif about, I think our young Rodney was quite miffed that you showed more regard to it and not his fine blade.”

Sam smiled at Andrew,
“You recall the other day I had the belongings of the Courier that died brought into my office, well in amongst that mans clothes and equipment was a sword, and on the pommel of the sword was the same motif as that one on young Rodney's rapier.
Now what I am left wondering is how much of a coincidence is it that a sword with that motif is given to a young Englishman by a french noble man just happens to be the same motif found on the sword of a enemy courier.”

Andrew immediately stood up, his face was alight with smiles.
“Master Samuel Ogilvy you are a little genius, a little genius I say. Indeed the coincidence is a long draw, but from my immediate guess is that the motif is either that of the sword maker, which I doubt, or it is a method of recognition. But you can be sure my little genius friend we will check out our French Comte Pascal.”

Sam stood up as well and then added, “There is one other thing Andrew, while I was holding the rapier, I errr accidentally gave the pommel a twist, that pommel is on a thread and I am wondering.....”

Andrew took Sam by the head and kissed him on the forehead... “You magnificent little master spy, you were wondering if that is where a message may be kept. I can assure you Sam we will know the answer to that soon.”

Andrew strolled over the group of young men who were all beginning to pick up their equipment which lay sprawled out on the lawns nearby.
Rodney noticing Andrew approaching and Sam slowly following some distance behind smiled,
“Ahhh brother Andrew, come for a lesson in the art of fencing perhaps.”

“No Rodney not all, it was that Sam and I were just discussing your fine sword, and as I had not had the opportunity to have a closer look at myself I was wondering if you would be so kind as to allow me the opportunity before you fine Gentlemen all went about your business.?”
Rodney feeling a little suspicious asked,
“And what was it about my sword that so intrigued you both, it is for sure a fine blade, but it is after all merely another rapier.”
Andrew smiled
“Well it was Sam who intrigued me over the motif, we were discussing what the meaning of such a device would have, Sam thought it might be the sword makers insignia, I am less sure but before casting an opinion I was wondering if I may have a look.”

“Well brother Andrew, ordinarily I would be only too pleased to let you look at the sword, but I fear I have important duties with the King that I must attend to.”

“”Odd Rodney because the King is involved with the Prime Minister all day today, but none the less I wont delay you long, it is merely to satisfy a curiosity that is all.”

Rodney turned to leave, as he did so he said “No I must really get back to my duties brother Andrew, perhaps another time.”

Rodney had taken a few steps when Andrew said, “well Rodney, I am sorry but I must insist you allow me to look at the blade, if my curiosity is satisfied then you will be on your way.”

“And if your curiosity as you call it is not satisfied, then what?”

“Then Rodney I fear you may be in a small amount of bother, but why go to this length merely to not allow me to see your sword, when ordinarily you have been only to keen to show it off.”

“It is your manner sir, that I find objectionable, now I must go.”

Andrew then yelled,
“Do not take another step Rodney or I will have you arrested, now give me your sword if you please.”

Rodney placed his equipment down on the ground but drew his sword,
“Now brother Andrew if you want my sword why dont you come and take it from me.”
Sam butted in, “For goodness sake Rodney, this is silly; just let Andrew have a look at your sword, there is no need for all this.”

“”I have said no, and that is the end of the matter, now brother Andrew either withdraw or come and take my sword from me.”

At that moment Andrew pulled a pistol from under his cloak, aiming it directly at Rodney said,
“Now either I take the sword from you alive or dead, but either way I will take your sword.”

Rodney's face whitened on seeing the pistol, he looked to his friends and they all drew their own swords, emboldened with the support of his friends Rodney said;
“Now Brother Andrew, it appears you may shoot me, but my friends will have done you in as well.”

Andrew then with the other hand drew another pistol out from under the cloak.
Sam looked at him with utter bewilderment,
“Good god Andrew how many of those things have you under there?”
Andrew momentarily glanced at Sam with a smile, “ Just the two Sam, sadly I dont have anymore hands.”
“So much for a man of god has no need for weapons” Sam muttered.

Then looking at the group of four young men Andrew said,
“Now all this is reaching the heights of ridiculous, all I want is a look at your sword Rodney, now you have raised this to something that can only end in a lot of grief, for you and these young gentlemen. Now there are four of you, and I have two shots, so all you have to do is decide which two are to die, and then the others can do me in, if they are able.”

Just then one of Lady Margret’s ladies that was standing nearby noticed the group of men with swords and pistols, she screamed.
Almost immediately guards appeared in the gardens, Rodney taking the chance of the diversion suddenly lunged at Andrew, he was to far away to reach him in one step, but that was all he got before Andrew fired one of the pistols and Rodney stopped, shuddered and then fell to the ground. The other young men, looked at each other, then to Rodney laying on the ground.
Guards were now quickly approaching as Andrew said
“Now if you please Gentlemen, do not make this worse for yourselves, lay down your swords”.
The three remaining men did as they were told just as the guards arrived
Andrew looked at the senior Guard, “Take these three to the Guardroom, we will be questioning them later.”

By now more Guards were running to the gardens, also Brother Paul came with several men following.
By the time he arrived Sam was kneeling alongside Rodney's body, but he was already dead. He reached across the body and took Rodney's sword, just then Brother Paul finally arrived.

“What in gods name has happened here?” he asked first looking to Andrew and then to Sam.
Andrew replied, “We had some suspicions that Rodney may somehow be involved with the code Sam has been trying to break, Sam recognised the motif on Rodney's sword as the same as on the pommel of the dead courier. We asked Rodney if we could examine it and he refused, so I insisted and then he and his friends drew their swords, so I shot him.”

Meanwhile Sam was tinkering with the pommel on Rodney's sword and finally it came loose, first looking inside the pommel and then Sam sliding a finger into the hollow tube and he brought out 2 small pieces of paper, one had letters written on it, the other numbers. Sam was all smiles.
“If I am not mistaken, this list with the letters will be what I have been looking for, Im not sure about the one with numbers yet but I will need to work on the letters immediately.”

“Without so much as a talking or asking anyone if he could leave Sam wandered off back to his office, Paul told one of the guards to escort him back, while the rest of them tried to sort out what to do regarding these events that had just taken place in the Kings Gardens.

On reaching his office, Sam placed the small pieces of paper on the desk, and then reaching inside his shirt he pulled out a small leather pouch, from the pouch he extracted the coded message. At last he felt he had a list of words, one of which could very well be the keyword. The problem was, though he had a list with what looked like 8 words, he still had to decipher what the words were and if one was the keyword which one.
He stood looking at the small list, he started to pace the floor of his office, subconsciously he reached into his pocket and found that he had subconsciously put the top of Rodney's sword pommel in his pocket. He went back to his desk and sat staring at it as if almost daring it to tell him the secrets it held.
He looked at the list of subjects he had used to try and find the keyword, people names, cities, towns objects; but none had wielded a slightest hint, and now he had a motif, what did it signify. Obviously it had something to do with the enemy group in their midst, it was perhaps the way they could introduce themselves to other conspirators who may be strangers. But why a motif that look like a river running over a white back ground; “RIVERS” he shouted, “its rivers.”
He tried all the English rivers, he tried Scottish and Welsh rivers and 2 hours later he was till none the wiser. Then he recalled that the maker of the Motif was french Comte Pascal, so he made a list of French rivers and starting with the Seine he started on the code, an later Sam realised he was the first man to have broken the Vigenere code.


There was a knock on the door, “Sam it is Brother Paul, I must speak with you.” Sam rose from his chair, he checked through the small peep hole that had been placed in the door and then unlocked it.
Brother Paul and Andrew walked in, they had one look at him and knew instantly.
Andrew said “You have broken it Sam, tell me you have broken it.”

Sam walked over to the desk and handed the decoded message to Paul,
“Good God, they were going to strike on the day of the Kings wedding, but what are the parcels I wonder. They could be weapons, or even bombs, obviously they were going to concentrate at the palace school room before the attack.”

Sam asked 'Well where is the wedding to take place?”
“In the chapel here at the Palace, it is to be a small affair because of the security risk, it will have all the Royalist leadership there” Paul said. “Good god on that one day they would have snuffed out the entire Royal cause in one blow.”

Sam then said “Well I would be giving the chapel a thorough going over were I you, somewhere there must be weapons or as you say a bomb.”

Andrew was looking at the small list of names, he realised that same had placed French river names beside each series of coded words.
Sam said, “Each river is likely a conspirator, the list of numbers is the sequence the message it will follow, for example if the list of numbers had only 3 people to see it the list would be 3 numbers long each number represents a river on this list numbered from the top of the list, for example the Seine was no 1 and was Pascal the second number the Moselle was undoubtedly Bedford. The other person to receive the message was number 5, now in truth we dont know who number 5 is, but I am willing to bet it was Rodney. I believe the message was written by Pascal No1 , sent to Bedford No 2 and was then given to the courier to deliver it to number 5, Rodney.

When each recipient gets the message he uses his own river name in reverse as well as forward as the keyword so Seine become seine-enies when this keyword is placed under the number on the square I had prepared I could then located the letter in the alphabet that was corresponding to the coded letter.

Paul, took the message and placed it in his pocket,
“So it seems that Rodney did not receive the message he must have queried somehow, it is likely that Pascal or Bedford asked for a confirmation that it had been received, when he didnt get it he contacted Rodney to find out what happened to it. Rodney in his rather inept way hired a thug to kill Mathias and get the message, but the idiot simply killed Mathias and then Rodney sent him back a few days later to search the house which is where we found him. The I presume Rodney heard we had a new code breaker, so this time he decided to do the dirty work himself, the Guard on the door that day would have recognised him as one of the King friends so it was a simple matter for Rodney to get close enough to kill him. It would have been no hardship for Rodney to get a key for the door or the safe as they were kept in my office and sadly I am a remiss for not taking greater care of them.”

Sam then asked, “But why didn't he kill me, that would have solved the problem”.

Paul replied “No Sam, by killing you Rodney still didn't know what was in the message and clearly Pascal was not going to risk another messenger and another courier until he was sure this had been cleared up. Remember they didn't know what happened to their courier, they simply knew he didn't arrive so they most likely suspected we had intercepted him. So naturally they wouldn't risk exposing anymore couriers until they knew the truth of what happened to their man. So it was vital for Rodney to find the message and I suspect he was working a way out to get you alone, and then he would have extracted the whereabouts of the message and then killed you.”

Andrew then added, “Yes its clear they could not change the plans because this was a one in a lifetime chance to get the King and the Royalist leadership in one go, so they had to go through with it; therefore they had to get the message back before you could break it. I suspect that Rodney knew you had not broken it yet, so he was likely going to have struck soon..”

“Indeed” Sam said, “We are very fortunate that young Rodney was so completely stupid as to carry both the keywords and the number list on him; otherwise I fear french rivers would have been very far down the list of words I had been thinking off.”

“Yes well his ego was such that he likely never considered that anyone would dare take his sword of him, he must have become quite unnerved when you showed an interest in that Pommel.”

Sam asked “What now?”

“Well as off in a few minutes we will be searching the chapel, the grounds and everywhere around where the festivities are to take place, at the worst if we find nothing we will change the place and time, but I am confident we will find what we are looking for.”

Sam you have done the Royalist cause a great deal of good here, I hope you will stay as the Kings Cartographer, God only knows we need you, besides our enemies have now become your enemies and you will really only be safe here with us until this terrible war is over.

They were just about to leave when a messenger came in, he handed Paul a note. Paul looked at it for a moment and then said

“There has been another battle up north.”